OnePlus has been making a big deal out of the fact that its newest phones support Fortnite at 90fps, and so the company sent me an OnePlus 8 to put the game through its paces, and then report on my findings. As a seasoned PC gamer who's been playing on a 144Hz monitor for the last few years, I've been eagerly awaiting the day I could explore a high-frame-rate Android game at Android Police, though in the back of my mind I was always worried that mobile wouldn't be able to keep up with demanding frame-rates when gaming. Once you start pushing for the best frame-rates possible, graphics will ultimately have to be toned down, which is precisely the case for Fortnite on the OnePlus 8. The question is, is this loss in graphics worth a higher frame-rate when it comes to playing Fortnite on Android?
Firstly I'd like to cover my setup for testing Fortnite on the OnePlus 8 5G. The particular model I'm using comes with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, so is the higher-end model. It runs on a Snapdragon 865 CPU with an Adreno 650 GPU while packing Bluetooth 5.1 support, and of course, offers an AMOLED 90Hz screen. Despite these killer specs, OnePlus does not support any methods for counting frames (unlike the Razer Phone or Pixel devices), which seems odd when the company is clearly trying to advertise high frame-rate devices. Luckily Fortnite has a built-in frame-rate counter.
Since I'm not a fan of touch controls when it comes to playing mobile shooters, I've been testing Fortnite with a Gamevice (over USB) and a Steelseries Stratus Duo (over bluetooth), in order to cover both wired and wireless controls to see if there's a difference as far as latency is concerned.
My video settings: 90fps, low Quality Presets, and 100% 3D resolution
As for the game itself, I'm playing at 90fps with 3D Resolution at 100% (though this does not mean native res, since the game still plays at sub-1080 on a 1080 device when at 100%). This means the option for Quality Presets (the graphical quality of the game) is automatically set to low. You see, there's currently no way to play Fortnite on the OnePlus 8 at 90fps unless you drop the graphics (Quality Presets) to their minimum (low), which isn't unexpected, though it's somewhat pernicious to the game's otherwise polished look.
Watch the framerate counter in the top right, it fluctuates constantly
Instead of beating around the bush, let's get to the point. Fortnite on mobile delivers a reasonably competent 90fps mode, but it comes at a cost. Pop-in happens from time to time, but worse than that, the second you jump out of the bus you'll see a blurred undetailed mess of a landmass below you instead of a thriving island like you would expect to see on consoles and PC (or even on mobile at 60fps with Quality Presets set higher than low). Once you land, the environment's finer details don't get much better, and it's quite clear shadows have been removed altogether. As you traverse the island, objects like trees and buildings can pop-in a little late, which breaks immersion, especially since there are no shadows, and when just about everything in the game lacks in detail when playing at 90fps, Fortnite looks even more cartoony than it typically does, which may not appeal to everyone.
That island isn't looking so hot on low Quality Presets, pretty blurry
Now, that's not to say the Fortnite is unplayable at 90fps, and as a matter of fact, it's the opposite, because everything feels and looks exceptionally smooth, despite the lackluster detail in the graphics. Even the pop-in I've mentioned has yet to affect my gameplay. So don't worry, players won't be able to sneak up on you more than they normally would, and as a matter of fact, this loss of detail in the environment is actually helpful when trying to spot enemies.
Even more cartoony than usual, thanks to the loss in graphics detail
Sadly it's clear Fortnite can't hold a stable 90fps on the OP8 (though this isn't unexpected), proven by utilizing Fortnite's built-in frame counter (which you can view in action in the video above). The game's frame-rate often dips down to the low 70s on my OP8, though this drop in frames isn't very perceptible unless you're really looking for it. As I said, the 90Hz mode looks pretty dang smooth, even with an inconsistent frame-rate that jumps from the 70s to the 90s quite often.
No shadows, no problems
Of course, prolonged sessions while playing at 90Hz have proven to heat up the OP8 exponentially, to the point the device can feel uncomfortably hot to the touch (though the game has yet to crash on me), especially if you choose to take advantage of the Fnatic gaming mode built into OP's Game Space app, which can supposedly boost performance by optimizing your CPU, GPU, and RAM. Luckily this heat makes for the perfect excuse to play with an external controller, so you won't have to directly hold your phone while playing.
They say the proof is in the pudding, and so the smooth controls and camera interaction are the primary reasons to play Fortnite at 90fps. As it stands, many competitive gamers in the PC world play on high-frame-rate screens, though it's hard to prove one way or the other whether the potential of improved response times carries over to mobile when playing at 90Hz. So if you're into competitive play, but for some reason exclusively play Fortnite on Android, yes, I'd say Fortnite at 90Hz on an OP8 is a worthwhile way to game, just expect to lose a lot of detail when it comes to the title's graphics.
So while I can't promise that a higher frame-rate will up your chances at winning a chicken dinner, I firmly believe the jump in quality when it comes to controls and camera is a big enough change to exclusively play at 90Hz going forward. I wouldn't go so far as to call 90Hz a game-changer in the mobile space, but it sure is a fun way to enjoy Fortnite, especially since there is currently no other version out there that supports such a high frame-rate. After all, OP partnered with Epic to offer the first line of smartphones with the ability to run Fortnite at 90fps, which is a novelty, but in my opinion, worth experiencing.
There's a plethora of controller settings, for those that need to dial in their preferences
As I mentioned, I've been testing Fortnite with a Gamevice over USB and a Steelseries Stratus Duo over bluetooth, in order to test each control method (wired vs. wireless) properly. Fortnite luckily offers a solid selection of options for those that choose to play with physical controllers, and yes, you can adjust your deadzones with ease in the game's settings.
Typically, a wired controller like the Gamevice will offer better response times over a bluetooth controller like the Stratus Duo, thanks to the delay introduced by wireless communication. This is why I'm happy to report that Fortnite feels just as responsive with either controller since there was no perceptible lag between the two, perhaps thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.1 support in the OP8. But since the Gamevice does not properly support L3 and R3 button clicks in Fortnite (good luck crouching), my preference is to play with the Steelseries Stratus Duo. So if you were worried that a bluetooth controller would interfere with the potential gain in response times from a higher frame-rate, don't worry, I've confirmed bluetooth controllers work as expected when playing Fortnite at 90Hz on the OnePlus 8.
It seems clear to me that Epic is pushing the bounds of mobile gaming with the likes of Fortnite's 90Hz support, but there are still a few pain points in the Android port, such as the tiny UI and a lack of optimization. While the 90Hz mode is quite competent, the numerous drops in frames may hold a few people back when 60fps is more consistent and can easily display better graphics.
Tiny buttons and text, why?
Ultimately, it's going to be a very personal choice for each player whether they want to play with a high frame-rate or detailed graphics, but for me, I'm on team high frame-rate. Even though Fortnite can't hold a consistent 90fps on the OP8, the improved smoothness for the camera and controls are enough to keep me gaming at 90fps. So, for now, my copy of Fortnite will remain on the 90Hz setting, and hopefully, with a few more updates from Epic, we can see some further improvements to this setting. After all, high-frame-rate phones are still a new thing, and so ideally, performance will get better from here as time moves forward. As it stands, the addition of 90Hz in Fortnite on Android is a good start, not to mention, a signal that mobile gaming can indeed hold its own when given proper attention from a big studio.